Up the Fleuve Maroni

St. Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana

As predicted, it was indeed a rolly night, but it was only one night and we suffered through it admirably, with thoughts of heading up the river in our minds. We timed our arrival at the river entrance to coincide with the change of tide, looking for a good up-river push. We spotted the red SL (St Laurent) marker from about a mile away and headed for the channel entrance.

fkeuve maroni entrance marker french guiana

We lost the ocean swell as we headed into river and the water began to change color. From turquoise green, to grey-green, to khaki brown to coffee brown. We heard howlers roar and monkeys chatter. The hum of cicadas provided constant background noise. Earthy smells and smoke replaced the smell of the ocean. The shoreline was thick with mangrove and dense, tangled foliage. A daunting sight, we imagined, for unprepared colonial settlers with no experience in such a hot, humid, hostile environment and a sense of doom for arriving prisoners.

brown calm water in french guiana

Snowy egrets perched on low branches watching us pass. A raptor circled overhead, dove and flew off with a fish clutched in his talons...an osprey, maybe?

osprey with a fish in french guiana

The Maroni River is a natural border between French Guiana and its neighbor, Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana), but the deep water is on the French side. We clung to the shoreline as we followed the buoyed markers up-river. Some markers were as noted on our charts; others had been moved to account for silting and changes in the river flow. We tracked our route to insure an easy exit when it came time. By the way, it's called the Fleuve Maroni on the French side and Marowijne Rivier on the Suriname side. The Maroni is the longest river in French Guiana...about 323 miles long...and flows in a northerly direction.

The river was busy. Fishermen plied their nets. River taxis... long, open pirogues with big outboard engines... ferried people up and down the river. Passengers held colorful parasols over their heads to keep off the blazing sun.

pirogues and parasols in french guiana

Every once in awhile, there would be a small clearing and a house on stilts would appear... the only access to it, the river.

house on stilts french guiana

Finally, we rounded the bend and the town of St. Laurent du Maroni appeared in the distance. We could see a small group of masts just off shore.

st laurant french guiana

I'd emailed the little marina here in advance and they were expecting us. A couple of fellow cruisers appeared in their dinghy and helped us with the mooring tie-up. We wondered about our mooring assignment, quite close to the wreck, Edith Cavell, and a bit shallow for our 2.2m (7'2”) draft, but we were assured there was no problem. More about that later, but for now, our Atlantic passage was complete. We had arrived in French Guiana. Yahoo!

nine of cups is moored in french guiana